Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie will be the one who gets judged by the quality of the team’s draft this year.
Just as he received praise for the 2014 draft that netted Khalil Mack and Derek Carr, among others, McKenzie’s reputation as a judge of talent – and job – will rest on the players he selects in the three rounds of this year’s draft that begin Thursday.
But it’s obvious that in this draft, the Raiders will be taking more of a team approach to talent selection.
While McKenzie sidesteps every question about who he’ll take with the No. 4 overall choice Thursday, he has made it clear that new head coach Jack Del Rio will be a part of the process – probably a much bigger part of it than was former head coach Dennis Allen.
As Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group noted, Allen always was in the background at draft time. Del Rio has been front and center with McKenzie.
“Reggie has been great about being inclusive,” Del Rio told reporters recently when he and McKenzie met Bay Area media for a pre-draft conversation. “I think Reggie does a great job of being inclusive and gathering information that way. I think that’s where it starts.”
No doubt, too, that team owner Mark Davis also will be part of the conversations, as he was in the selection of Del Rio and this year’s free-agent acquisitions.
Del Rio said the team goes into this year’s draft with a much better foundation, thanks to productive drafts in 2014 and 2013 by McKenzie. Del Rio said the “cupboard’s not bare” in terms of talent on the team now. But he said it’s been a long, involved process to be part of a team with McKenzie judging college talent in the run-up to this draft.
“The first order of business when we got here was to evaluate our roster and know our guys first,” said Del Rio. “So we’re just getting to know our guys better, being able to get all of the veterans here and having everybody participate like they did. We make sure we all evaluate that information. What have that in order before we go to the draft.”